Informant: El Ratón Pérez was a very important figure in my childhood.
Collector: Could you elaborate on who, and what, is El Ratón Pérez?
Informant: Yeah so El Ratón Pérez is the same premise as The Tooth Fairy but instead of a fairy it´s a mouse. So, in Venezuela, when kids’ teeth fell they were told by their parents to leave their tooth under their pillow so that El Ratón Pérez could come and leave them a present.
Collector: So every time one of you teeth would fall as a child it was El Ratón Pérez that you believed would come? What would he usually leave under your pillow?
Informant: Exactly! He would always leave money. The bigger the tooth, the more money. So, for example, I would get more money for a molar than for one of my front teeth.
Collector: And when did you realize El Ratón Pérez wasn’t real?
Informant: I figured it out as I began getting older, kind of like you figure out Santa Claus isn’t real. You start suspecting it and then the other kids start suspecting it as well until finally you just know that it was never El Ratón Pérez leaving money under your pillow and taking your teeth but that instead it was always your parents.
I really liked the idea of El Ratón Pérez being the one to pick up your teeth instead of the Tooth Fairy. Again, I was struck by how similar this Venezuelan tradition is to the Mexican one; in Mexico, it’s also El Ratón Pérez that comes instead of the Tooth Fairy. Just like with the legend of La Llorona, which is both common in Mexico and Venezuela, I was extremely intrigued to see the overlap between Latin culture and folklore.
I think this type of folklore is extremely interesting because it applies to little kids and becomes such a big part of their childhood. However, the belief of something like El Ratón Pérez inevitably stops becoming a belief and, instead, only becomes a pleasant lie your parents told you. This is what happened to Paula once she realized that El Ratón Pérez was not real. I also find it very interesting how this realization comes along as a communal thing. Paula mentioned how the idea of El Ratón Pérez and his existence began diminishing once the other kids started doubting its existence as well. Therefore, there is a certain sense of understanding and community that goes along with other children your age. In a way, folk beliefs last as long as your social group still believe them. If the people you identify with hold something to be true, then you will most likely hold it to be true as well. This could serve as an explanation as to why children all stop believing in things such as El Ratón Pérez and Santa Claus around the same time.
I really like this piece. It is a nice folk belief that dissipates kids’ fear of losing their teeth. In a way, you can say that the purpose of figures such as El Ratón Pérez is to make childhood funner and less frightening. As a kid, loosing one of your teeth can be an awful experience; the tooth hurts and moves for a few weeks before it falls, once it falls you bleed, and then you’re left with a physical gap in your mouth. The gap that is left over makes it uncomfortable to chew food and can leave kids feeling self-conscious. Therefore, I think that a belief such as El Ratón Pérez really helps kids go through this transition. They get a prize for their pain and what could be considered as scary (loosing your teeth) becomes exciting at the prospect of receiving a visit from El Ratón Pérez.